“As I peeled off the pelepah, a heavenly aroma wafted through the air, caressing my nostrils and building up my appetite even further.”
Ayam Betutu (Balinese spicy roasted/steamed chicken) is one of the most famous fares in the Island of the Gods. On the other hand, Bebek Betutu – the duck version of the dish – is completely the opposite due to it requiring more effort to cook.
Pak Mangku Gunung Lebah is one of the very few places in Bali that offers Bebek Betutu. Neither a restaurant nor a warung, Pak Mangku was an Ubud native who serves both Ayam Betutu and Bebek Betutu at his own house on a made-to-order basis. A customer is required to place an order a day before, and then pick it up at Pak Mangku’s abode. As opposed to the scarcity of Bebek Betutu on the island, one can find Ayam Betutu easily here. However, only at Pak Mangku’s place can you taste a proper, authentic Betutu dish.
After booking a serving the previous day, I went and collected my order at Pak Mangku’s house. His granddaughter Wayan handed over a plastic bag, and due to my curiosity regarding this unique eatery, I proceeded to bombard her with questions aplenty. It was to no avail, however, as she had no idea exactly when did her family first established the business.
Knowing that I couldn’t get any information from her, I went and left to enjoy my Bebek Betutu, as they don’t provide an area for patrons dine in. I proceeded to open the plastic bag at a nearby mini-market, dying to know what makes Pak Mangku’s Betutu dish so special. The duck was wrapped in pelepah pohon pinang (the big leaves from a betel palm tree) – with some of the pelepah looking a bit burnt due to it being cooked for quite some time using rice husks.
As I peeled off the pelepah, a heavenly aroma wafted through the air, caressing my nostrils and building up my appetite even further. Underneath the pelepah was a whole roasted duck stuffed with Balinese spices. Duck meat tend to be quite fibrous and tough, yet this Bebek Betutu features a very tender texture that can be cut and chewed with ease. Wayan mentioned that it takes 12 hours to cook up the duck, which results in a well-balanced dish that is both savoury and spicy at the same time.
My maiden taste of Pak Mangku’s Bebek Betutu was just otherworldly. A part of me wishes that Wayan would open a proper eatery, but she told me that there are no plans to expand the business. I suppose we will have to stick to their standard procedure for the time being. It’s definitely worth the effort.
By Jessicha Valentina
Banjar Penestanan Kaja, Sayan, Ubud,
T: 0361 977 808 (order has to be made before 3 pm)
Rp.95,000/US$6.50 for a whole chicken and Rp.110,000/US$7.60 for a whole duck.